KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Devon Dotson scored 17 points, Dedric Lawson added 16 and No. 17 Kansas pulled away in the second half for a 65-57 victory over Texas on Thursday night in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals.
The No. 10 seed Mountaineers upset second-seeded Texas Tech earlier in the day.
Dylan Osetkowski had 18 points to lead the sixth-seeded Longhorns (16-16), who may have needed a win at the Sprint Center to help their NCAA Tournament resume. They have a strong strength of schedule but have lost five of their last six games overall.
Kansas improved to 20-3 in quarterfinals since the inaugural tournament in 1997, and took a big step toward redemption in Kansas City. The Jayhawks finished behind the Red Raiders and Kansas State in the league race, ending their record-setting run of 14 consecutive regular-season crowns.
The Jayhawks and Longhorns split in the regular season with each winning at home, so perhaps it was no surprise that they played to a 29-29 stalemate in the first half.
Kansas got out to a quick 9-2 lead but languished through long periods, unable to get anything going offensively. The Longhorns did their best work attacking the paint and getting to the foul line, even though 6-foot-11 freshman Jaxson Hayes sat most of the half with two fouls.
The Jayhawks began to edge ahead early in the second half.
Lawson scored a couple of quick baskets to build a lead, and the brutish, 6-foot-10 McCormack went to work on the glass. He made one nifty rebound off a miss by Ochai Agbaji and spun around for a lay-in, helping Kansas stretch its lead to the biggest of the game.
Texas tinkered with a 2-3 zone and a half-court trap to slow the Jayhawks, and to some extent they succeeded. But the Longhorns were unable to capitalize at the other end.
When they closed to within 56-51, the Jayhawks’ Quentin Grimes drew a foul and triggered the bonus, making both free throws. When the Longhorns added a foul shot of their own, Dotson breezed to the bucket for another contested layup to extend the Jayhawks’ lead.
The Jayhawks held on the rest of the way.
Kerwin Roach II returned from a five-game suspension for violating team rules. He checked in early in the game but finished with just eight points on 2-for-7 shooting.
The Longhorns lost Hayes, one of their bright young stars, when he appeared to hurt his left knee during a scrum with 1:58 left in the game. He was helped off without putting any weight on it.
Texas had the nation’s sixth-toughest scheduled according to the NET, the new analytics used by the NCAA Tournament selection committee. But the Longhorns were just 8-10 in the Big 12 in the regular season, and they may have needed a win over Kansas to help their postseason cause.
Kansas started 15-2 but was just 8-6 down the stretch, when injuries and absences began to wreak havoc with the lineup. But the emergence of McCormack gives the Jayhawks hope they can defend their tournament title after failing to win the regular-season crown.
Kansas will play the Mountaineers for a spot in the finals.